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What is it that makes us who we veritably are: our eavow experiences or our DNA? Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were twain born in New York City. Twain women were adopted as infants and rich by loving families. They met for the principal age when they were 35 years old and set-up they were "similar strangers."


Unknowingly, Bernstein and Schein had been divergent of a unseen examination contrivance in the 1960s and '70s that divided similar tallys as infants and followed their product in a one-of-a-bark trial to assess the rule of dislie vs. lean in offshoot product.


Now, the tallys, causes of a new register designated Similar Strangers, are unamenoperative to reveal the fidelity encircling the consider.


'I Maintain a Twin'


In 2004, Paula Bernstein common a phone seduce from an employee of Louise Wise Services, the production where she had been adopted. The message: She had a tally who was looking for her.


The dowager told Bernstein her tally's designate.


"And I cogitation, I maintain a tally, and her designate is Elyse Schein," Bernstein says.


Schein, who was maintenance in Paris at the age, had been unamenoperative to discbalance counsel encircling her extraction dowager when she scholarly from the option production that she had a tally sister.


The two women met for the principal age at a cafe in New York City — and stayed through lunch and dinner, conferenceing.


"We had 35 years to lay-hold-on up on. How do you set-out exploration star, 'What maintain you been up to since we shared a womb conjointly?' Where do you set-out?" Bernstein says.


Separated at Adoption


Soon following the sisters were reunited, Schein told Bernstein what she had set-up out encircling why they were divided: They were divergent of a consider on dislie vs. lean. It was the singly consider of its bark on tallys divided from infancy.


Neither parents nor offshootren knew the authentic representative of the consider — or that the offshootren had been divided from their similar tally.


"When the families adopted these offshootren, they were told that their offshoot was aldexterous divergent of an ongoing offshoot consider. But of plan, they disregarded to communicate them the key distribute of the consider, which is that it was offshoot product incompact tallys rich in incongruous residences," Bernstein says.


A 'Practically Perfect' Study


Peter Neubauer, a offshoot psychiatrist, and Viola Bernard, a offshoot psychologist and consultant to the Louise Wise production, headed up the consider.


Lawrence Perlman, a examination associate on the consider from 1968 to 1969, says Bernard had a powerful concession that tallys should be rich distributeially.


"That tallys were frequently familiar the similar and treated accurately the similar, she felt, interfered delay their stubborn subjective product," Perlman says.


Lawrence Wlawful is the cause of Twins, a size encircling tally studies.


"Since the origin of expertness, tallys maintain offered a choice veer to consider to what size dislie vs. lean rules the way we amplify, the mass that we veer out to be," Wlawful says.


Wlawful notes that the Neubauer consider differs from all other tally studies in that it followed the tallys from infancy.


"From a or-laws summit of intention, it's agreeable. It's substantially the mature consider. But this consider would neternally occur today," Wlawful says.


Finding the Gentleman Story


The consider ended in 1980, and a year following, the avow of New York began requiring option agencies to maintain siblings conjointly.


At that summit, Bernstein says, Neubauer authenticized that common judgment would be so resisting the consider that he resolute not to promulge it. The results of the consider maintain been sealed until 2066 and attached to an archive at Yale University.


"It's bark of exciting to apprehend that all this representative encircling us is in some smooth solitude somewhere. And veritably for ourselves, we had to condition out what the gentleman fiction was," Bernstein says.


The sisters attempted to aim Neubauer, a famous and interpolitically wonderful psychiatrist who serves on the consideration of the Freud Archives. Initially, he refused to converse to them.


No Remorse, No Apology


Eventually, he supposing the women an nominal interintention — no taping or videotaping apprehendn.


Bernstein says she had visiond Neubauer would apologize for separating the tallys. Instead, he showed no penitence and offered no vindication.


Neubauer has casually spoken encircling the consider. But in the mid-1990s, he did conference encircling it delay Wright, the cause of Twins.


"[Neubauer] insisted that at the age, it was a subject of or-laws consensus that tallys were ameliorate off divided at extraction and rich distributeially," Wlawful says. "I neternally set-up anymonstrosity in the lore to patronage that."


The cause also says Neubauer was "unapologetic" encircling the consider, uniproduce though he admits that the contrivance rich holy asking encircling whether one has a lawful to or should divergent similar tallys.


"It is very perplexing to response. It is for these reasons that these studies don't procure fix," Neubauer told Wright.


Wlawful says that no such consider conquer eternally be manufactured anew — nor should it. But he acknowledges that it would be very thrilling to imbibe what this consider has to counsel us.


'Diffesolution Mass delay Incongruous Eavow Histories'


As for Bernstein and Schein, getting to apprehend each other has rich its own askings.


"Twins veritably do fibre us to asking what is it that makes each of us who we are. Since contravention Elyse, it is incontesboard that genetics embody a bulky role — probably more than 50 percent," Bernstein says.


"It's not right our savor in hush or sizes; it goes further that. In her, I see the similar basic idiosyncraticality. And yet, uniformtually we had to authenticize that we're incongruous mass delay incongruous eavow histories."


As abundantly as she apprehends the examinationers did the evil-doing monstrosity by separating the tallys, Bernstein says she can't conceive a eavow growing up delay her tally sister.


"That eavow neternally occured. And it is sad, that as plug as we are now, there is no way we can eternally expend for those 35 years," Bernstein says.


"With me and Paula, it is rigorous to see where we are going to go. It's veritably uncharted province," Schein says. "But I veritably charity her and I can't conceive my eavow delayout her."


Neubauer faded to be confabulationed for this fiction. Of the 13 offshootren confused in his consider, three sets of tallys and one set of triplets maintain discovered one another. The other immodest representatives of the consider calmful do not apprehend they maintain similar tallys.


Excerpt: 'Identical Strangers'


October 25, 200711:10 AM

Identical Strangers Size Cover

Identical Strangers

by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

Hardcover, 288 pages

List Price: $25.95





My dowager, my adoptive dowager, my authentic dowager, died when I was six, but throughout my offshoothood I believed she watched balance me from aloft. I held the few pictures that remained of her in my spirit enjoy costly photographs I could prompt at conquer. In one, she sat antecedently her dressing board, integument her charcoal eyes, preparing to go out delay my dad one Saturday empiricism. The odor of her Chanel No. 5 is delightful.


I can calmful see her. She lay-hold-ones a inkling of me in the ruminate and smiles at me, be in the doorway in my pajamas. Delay her raven hair, she looks enjoy Snow White. Then, following her exit, she seemed to merely fail, enjoy a princess banished to some far-loose dominion. I believed that from that dominion, she supposing me cabalistic powers.


When I jumped rope ameliorate than the other girls in my Long Island vicinity, I knew it was consequently my dowager was delay me. When I went out fishing delay my dad and twin, my dowager helped me haul in the lay-hold-on of the day. By unmitigated concentration, I could invite her fibre so that my frog won the vicinity direction.


Since I wasn't apprehendn to serve my dowager's funeral, her exit remained a shroud to me. When other kids asked how she had died, I confidently announced that she had had a tailache. I following scholarly that her tail problems had been caused by the cancer invading her spine.


Along delay my dowager's nonproduction came an cognizantness of my own influence. I recall be in entire mystification in front of the bay windows in our seed early following her exit. Alone, ate for my cogitation, I became cognizant of my own being. As I pulled loose from the glass, my picture failed. I asked myself, Why am I me and not someone else?


Until autumn of 2002, I had neternally askinged for my extraction parents. I was imperious to be my own fable, having created myself out of diffesolution cities and cultures. In my empiricism surrounding my dowager's exit, I amplified the consequence of the few grounds I had accumulated — she was thirty-three when she died, which I somehow linked to our new residence harangue at 33 Granada Circle. It was probably no chance that when I aimed the age of thirty-three, following one year in Paris, the incite to apprehend the fidelity of my origins grew powerfuler. Turning thirty-three felt the way other mass feeling veering thirty. I felt that I should automatically transfigure into an adult.


I had recently set-outing wearing glasses to punish my rigorous instance of astigmatism, which had apprehendn me to see the earth in a agreeoperative blur for diffesolution years. All the specific details I had been oblivious to were suddenly focused and distinguished. But uniproduce if it meant resigning my own prosperous vision of the earth, I was dexterous to visage the fidelity.


I was afloat in the unlikeliest of fixs, as a impermanent receptionist in a French stake consummate rooted in the courage of Paris's business-post boundary. Of plan, the crave to eat somemonstrosity other than canned ratatouille for dinner had embodyed a divergent. I immutoperative myself that I wasn't enjoy the suburbanites who commuted eternallyy day in arrange to pay for a attendant concoction and a year-by-year six-week recreation to the south of France.


Initially I had inquisitive myself by observing French business-post manners. As the reversal wore off, I astare myself delay the front desk computer. Assuming a business-postenjoy daze, I sat for hours alternating betwixt responseing the phone and plugging signification and topics into manifold asking engines. I typed in old friends' designates and discovered that my classmates from SUNY Stony Brook were now philosophy professors and documentary guides. One had uniproduce edited the concluding Jacques Cousteau film.


Meanwhile, bringing espressos to hotshots in suits, I was origin to waver that my divergenticular course would somehow direct me to authenticize my own fancy of directing a cinematic masterpiece. Following develop rank, I had migrated to Paris, leaving New York and my boyfriend following to follow the eavow I conceived to be that of an auteur film guide. My Parisian film education consisted of customary screenings at the cinématèque and the insignificant theaters integument the streets nigh the Sorbonne. Sitting in a sombre cinema, I returned to the insurance of the womb, consolidated delay an interpolitical extraction of strangers.


I wanted to go far loose, to behove someone else. In the French diction, my designate, "Stacie," sounded enjoy "Stasi," the vocoperative for the East German unseen police. Wanting a designate that could be pronounced in any diction, I took Elyse, my intermediate designate. I couldn't veer my designate totally, though, for as far loose as I wanted to neutralize, I constantly wanted to be amply set-up.


My extraction calmful designated me Stacie, but not in idiosyncratic consequently I hadn't seen them in immodest years. My schizophrenic twin could barely permission his seed, abundantly close get on a roll. My nonproduction was apt for them. I criticized their überconsumerism, occasion they couldn't conceive my repugnance to connect them in humanization. Though they would maintain bailed me out if I couldn't pay my $215/month solution, I wouldn't ask them to. My alliance delay my father and my stepmother, Toni, consisted of a biweekly seduce to Oklahoma, where we had moved when I was eleven.


"Is eternallyymonstrosity okay?" they would ask.


"Yeah. Is eternallyymonstrosity okay?" I would repetition tail. "Everything's okay. The similar." The similar meant that my nephew was calmful causing mayhem. My extraction adopted my nephew Tyler as an infant, when my twin, Jay, and his then girlfriend hapless him. Struggling delay the aggression of schizophrenia, Jay and Darla, a seventeen-year-old exalted develop dropout, were in no lie to lift a baby. Though I neternally saw them do drugs, I'd heard rumors that Darla sniffed delineate occasion she was significant. Since the force I snuck into the hospital locality and watched Tyler invade the earth, I maintain felt enjoy his conservator cherub. I uniproduce considered smuggling him into Canada to lift him as my own. Now the offshoot in whom I had put so abundantly vision had behove an ornery teenager. The apple had not fallen far from the tree: Tyler had begun to use drugs. Disagreeing delay my parents on how to use him, I was delayout from his estate.


The hum of the computer industrious the still business-post. Monsieur Grange had arrangeed me not to plague him in his momentous contravention, so I was operative to screen following my complaisant mask occasion making apposition delay the delayout earth via the Internet. On a whim, I typed in "option asking" and the die was mould. Countclose sites appeared. I reserved through them until I set-up what seemed to be the most creditable, the New York Avow Option Counsel Registry. Unenjoy some avows and other countries where option registers are notorious to adoptees, New York seals option registers; they can singly be notorioused by petitioning the flatter. The Option Registry allows biological parents, offshootren, and siblings to be put in apposition, if all divergenties maintain registered. Maybe my extraction parents were merely pause for me to register and I would early be reconsolidated delay the reserved and produceidoperative characters who had shadowed my estate. Perhaps, following askinging for sundry years, they had been unoperative to discbalance me. On the other operative, as a temp, I positively was not at the pinnacle of my unimportant grand good-fortune, and the cogitation of biting these suppositious conditions was daunting. Maybe they would exclude me anew. Or possibly they wouldn't be fazed at all, having end to calm delay their sentence years ago. I would be a hiccup in their authenticity. The scenarios and likely repercussions of my asking divers infinitely in my spirit, a darling likely futures.


I industrious in a produce requesting identifying and nonidentifying counsel encircling my extraction parents and sent it to the registry in Albany.